Fla was most fiscally responsible state in 2017, but its number of govt employees with six-figure salaries is soaring

DCNFEvie Fordham, DCNF

The number of Florida state and local government employees with six-figure salaries or higher has grown to almost 35,000 employees — an increase of almost 13 percent — since 2017.

The number of high-paid government employees increased by 4,000 since 2017, reported Forbes. The total cost to taxpayers for these salaries is $5.5 billion a year.

Florida has a population of more than 20 million and was proclaimed the most fiscally responsible state in the U.S. in 2017.

Some of the highest-compensated employees include:

  • $1.2 million a year for the University of Florida’s Vice President of Health Affairs.
  • $436,918 a year for a city attorney.
  • $304,000 retirement payout for an airport director who collected the payout and then was rehired.

More than 700 municipal employees earn at least six figures in Florida. Twenty-six of these city and town employees make more than any U.S. governor with salaries of more than $180,000 a year.

For example, Ron Ferris makes $261,987 as manager of Palm Beach Gardens, a city with multiple gated communities and a population of approximately 48,000.

Many of these high-paid employees work in the education sector. Florida paid 3,195 teachers and administrators more than $100,000 in 2018 for a total cost to taxpayers of nearly $400 million. Specific high salaries include:

  • $365,042 a year for Robert Avossa, former Palm Beach County School District Superintendent.
  • $276,000 a year for Pamela Stewart, Florida’s Commissioner of Education.
  • $196,0001 a year for Daniel Gohl, chief academic officer for Broward County School District in the Miami metropolitan area.

Some government employees collected retirement compensation and then returned to the payroll, reported Forbes. Palm Beach County airport director Bruce Pelly collected $307,736 in salary and retirement checks in 2017 after he retired in 2010. He was rehired a month later.

The city manager for Apopka, Florida, Richard Anderson, retired in 2014 and made more than $500,00 in his final year. He signed back on with the city in 2016 as a lobbyist with a $528,000 two-year contract.

Other states have also faced increases in the number of state and local government employees with six-figure-plus salaries.

Massachusetts experienced a 25 percent spike in the number of government employees who made more than $100,000 from 2014 to 2015. The number totaled 13,167 in 2015, reported the Boston Globe.

The state of Illinois employed 30,000 educators with six-figure “salaries or pension payouts” for a total yearly cost of $3.7 billion, reported Forbes in June.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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